Zia's son held in nightlong anti-corruption raids
Mar 8, 2007 - 11:52:52 AM

Dhaka, March 8 - Former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia's son Tarique Rahman was caught in a dramatic swoop on his residence by armed forces post midnight as part of the government's anti-corruption drive.

Zia's political rival and former prime minister Sheikh Hasina's cousin Sheikh Helal was also nabbed in the drive.

Media reports Thursday said armed forces surrounded Tarique's house in Dhaka Cantonment where he lives with his mother, disconnected telephone connections including mobile ones, and stepped into his house at 12.10 a.m.

The Daily Star said the caretaker government was causing 'the final downfall of the man, who once looked untouchable to any force.

'When the endgame came, Tarique looked nervous and unsure,' the newspaper said, quoting sources present during the raid.

While searching for Sheikh Helal, authorities raided Sudha Sadan, Hasina's personal residence twice, the newspaper said.

The two belong to a list of 50 under investigations and restricted from leaving the country.

The government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed has detained an estimated 45,000 people and put them on trial. Those include former ministers and lawmakers, besides political workers, officials and businessmen.

This is the first action against family members of former prime ministers that, Bangladesh watchers say, was expected in view of the large-scale investigations.

Tarique, 36, has been his mother's principal political aide as an official of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party -. His clout political and economic clout was seen to be growing during the five-year BNP rule -.

Tarique was seen wielding immense, unconstitutional power from the BNP headquarters at Hawa Bhavan.

Officials deposing before courts have in recent weeks alleged that ministers and top officials of the then Prime Minister's Office visited him with files, and decisions on many key issues were taken at his bidding.

Security forces also raided the residence of Anwar Hossain Monju, owner of the influential Bengali daily Ittefaq and who also heads a faction of the Jatiya Party, considered the third largest political party in the country.

During the nightlong raids, forces arrested Chittagong Mayor A.B.M. Mohiuddin Chowdhury, former health minister Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain, former lawmaker of Jamaat Abdullah Mohammad Tahir and editor of Janakantha Atikullah Khan Masud.

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